The calendar has turned to December, meaning the top executives from each organization and the top agents from around the league gather for the winter meetings. These meetings could determine the shape of the league for years to come. At this year’s meetings in Nashville, teams will go in with a specific goal that they believe will make their team better in 2024 or the future. Here are each AL West team’s winter meetings goals.
The AL East and AL Central editions are here and the NL are upcoming.
The Goal For Each AL West Team at the Winter Meetings
Houston Astros: Make depth additions
The Houston Astros don’t have any pressing needs this winter, with the only areas of need being on the bench and in the bullpen but that doesn’t mean they will stand pat at the winter meetings. Houston could improve the bullpen either by looking to the free agent market or by dealing from other parts of the roster. Free agency seems more likely as the farm system is already very depleted and Jake Meyers is the only major league player who seems likely to be moved.
As for the bench, the Astros are a fairly well-rounded team, which is how they have sustained success for so long, so there are no glaring holes on the roster. What Houston lacks is depth, as it stands now the bench does not look like that of a World Series contender with only one established big leaguer in Mauricio Dubon.
As well, a veteran catcher to take some of the load off of 25-year-old Yainer Diaz would certainly improve the roster. Key targets to fill those vacancies should be guys with positional versatility, perhaps Gio Urshela, Whit Merrifield, or Jurickson Profar on the bench, and maybe a reunion with clubhouse favorite Martin Maldonado or a signing of defensive specialist Jacob Stallings to go with Diaz’s powerful bat.
Texas Rangers: Replace departing pieces
The Texas Rangers have spent quite a bit of money over the last few off-seasons, but this time around that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen now that the pursuit of Shohei Ohtani appears to be over. Instead, the Rangers will look to replace some key players that have become free agents. Players like deadline acquisition Jordan Montgomery and Mitch Garver who were valuable pieces last season are going to need to be replaced or maybe even resigned.
Rangers’ GM Chris Young has made it clear that they do not have the same financial flexibility that they have had in previous off-seasons but they still can maintain the bulk of the roster that just won the World Series. To replace Garver there are several catching options on the market that Texas can bring in to help Jonah Heim, specifically guys like veterans Maldonado and Yasmani Grandal or better bats like Gary Sanchez. As far as Montgomery, the pitching market is rich with mid-rotation arms that can give lots of innings with very solid results.
Seattle Mariners: Add a power bat
With Teoscar Hernandez likely lost to free agency and Eugenio Suarez traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Seattle Mariners will look for a home run threat to fill the void left by those two players. There is plenty of power available on the free agent market this year, especially for short-term deals which is ideal for a young Mariners team that still has a wide-open competitive window. Look for the Mariners to bring in some solid power bats to put in the middle of that lineup this week.
The good news for the Mariners is that there are several options for affordable power on the open market, JD Martinez, CJ Cron, and Adam Duvall can all hit the ball out of the ballpark at an affordable price. Look for the Mariners to search the position player market for hidden gems that add some thump and lengthen that lineup.
LA Angels: Improve starting pitching
This has been the goal for the LA Angels during each of the last 10 winter meetings, this offseason though the pitching market is very strong. Reigning NL Cy Young Blake Snell seems like a good fit, as does Yoshinobu Yamamoto or any other top-of-the-line starter for that matter. If the Angels decide to try and compete next season (which they shouldn’t), then starting pitching is where the front office will look to improve the most.
That would be the plan if the Angels decide to try and compete next season, which they almost certainly will. However, if they finally decide to rebuild this off-season they would have several pieces to trade. Primarily superstar centerfielder Mike Trout, but also players like Taylor Ward and Tyler Anderson could be valuable trade chips if the Angels decided to build for the future.
Oakland Athletics: Prepare for Las Vegas
What happens on the field doesn’t really matter anymore for the Oakland Athletics, with the team already primed to leave the city it has called home for decades all of the attention will be turned to what happens off the field. Specifically, what the Las Vegas stadium will look like and where they will play from now until that stadium is ready.
The A’s will likely have to leave the Oakland Coliseum after the next of the 2024 season, but the new stadium in Las Vegas will not be ready until the 2028 season. This creates a three-year period where the A’s will have nowhere to play and at this year’s winter meetings, they will have to figure out where to play over those three years. They either extend the lease on the Coliseum or find a minor league park to play in for those seasons, whether it be in Vegas or the Bay Area.
The AL West is one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, with three teams who all believe they can win the World Series including the previous two champions. These teams are all very motivated to improve this week in Nashville and will likely be aggressive in pursuing the players that will put them over the top. Look for there to be many headlines coming from the AL West this week.
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